Tag: Real Madrid

Transfer window: Boston Globe signs John L Allen

Friday, 10 January, 2014 0 Comments

Background: The transfer window is a period during the year in which a football club can purchase players from other teams to strengthen their lineup. With the January window is now open, all kinds of fascinating questions have been raised: Will struggling Manchester United sign the workhorse Diego Costa or the workshy Fabio Coentrão? Can Arsène Wenger find suitable subs for the injury-plagued Arsenal bench? Is the flamboyant Chelsea star David Luiz heading to Barcelona? Was it arrogance or indigence that led Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti to say that he won’t be signing any new players?

The transfer window is not confined to soccer, however. There’s a permanent media version and the Boston Globe made news this week when it signed the superb John L Allen from the National Catholic Reporter. “Allen, widely hailed as the best-sourced and most knowledgeable English-speaking reporter on the Vatican, will help lead coverage of Catholicism and the Vatican as an associate editor of The Globe,” declared the press release. And then comes the really interesting bit: “He will also help us explore the very real possibility of launching a free-standing publication devoted to Catholicism, drawing in other correspondents and leading voices from near and far,” said Boston Globe editor Brian McGrory.

The Globe would be placing a big bet on Pope Francis if this were to happen, but it might pay off nicely. The whirlwind pontiff has set the media industry alight and more headlines are sure to come as he attempts to fill the “God-shaped void”, as Blaise Pascal put it some 300 years ago. While core doctrine is not going to change, Catholic theology is set to become more dynamic and millions of people will want to read all about it. Secular fads like the Occupy craze and the global warming cult offer little of substance to those in need of spiritual comfort so it falls to Francis to curate his global, 2,000-year-old movement in a way that makes it relevant to both sides of the digital divide. There’s no better person to interpret the coming Church changes than John L Allen. Game on!

Francis


And then there were two

Thursday, 2 May, 2013 0 Comments

Borussia Dortmund and FC Bayern München will contest the Champions League final on 25 May in Wembley Stadium in London. While Dortmund did just enough to edge past Real Madrid, it is the thrashing of Barcelona by Bayern that has sent the football world searching for words to explain, interpret and understand what we have seen.

“We’re witnessing the beginning of the end of an era for Barca, and the end of the beginning of an era for Bayern,” said Gary Lineker on the BBC last night. And then there were the tweets:

So does this mean that the Bundesliga is the model for European clubs? Not quite, argues economist David McWilliams: “Without free-spending, debt-financed, brash Spanish giants like Real Madrid and Barcelona, Bayern would have nobody to play with. There would be no Champions League. Put simply, without the huge spending of the likes of Real, the Germans would have no competition to play in or against.”


Spain becomes Argentina

Thursday, 25 April, 2013 0 Comments

First, Bayern Munich hammered Barcelona and then Borussia Dortmund routed Real Madrid. Now, comes news that Spain’s unemployment rate soared to a new record of 27.2 percent of the workforce in the first quarter of 2013. The jobless figure is the highest since at least 1976, the year after Francisco Franco’s death began Spain’s transition to democracy and, to add further woe, data released on Tuesday by the Bank of Spain showed the euro zone’s fourth-largest economy had shrunk by two percent in the first three months of 2013, compared with the year-earlier period.

What makes the economic crisis so shocking is that Spain was once Europe’s most vibrant and exciting country. Prosperity soared for two decades and Viva España became the slogan for a global leader in football, fashion, food and cinema. But where once there was optimism, there’s only rage now. It’s directed against the banks, the politicians, the royal family and, increasingly, the European Union. Initially, the EU seemed to offer a way out of an Iberian jungle of ignorance, poverty, isolation and authoritarianism. Indeed, in a moment of euphoria, the writer, José Ortega y Gasset, put it thus: “Spain is the problem and Europe is the solution.” But that was then.

The “European dream” that Spain bought into seemed to promise a middle-class lifestyle for all, from Andalusia to Zaragoza. But with no hope of jobs for the young, the welfare state under threat and the fabric of society rent, the worry now is that Spain will become more like Argentina than Munich or Dortmund. Those football results are portents.


The Special Ones: José Mourinho and Abel Rodríguez

Friday, 12 April, 2013 0 Comments

And then there were four: In today’s Champions League semi-final draw we have Barcelona, Bayern München, Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund. Will it be Bundesliga vs. Bundesliga and Primera División vs. Primera División with the best of both meeting in Wembley Stadium on 25 May? Exciting.

While we’re counting down to the draw, let’s read about Abel Rodríguez from Mexico, who waxes floors for a living in Los Angeles and takes two weeks holiday every year to work for free for Real Madrid when the club does its summer training in Los Angeles. He had always dreamed of seeing Real playing their great rivals Barca in Madrid in El Clásico, as fans call the contest, so his family urged him to go. And he went. Without a match ticket or a hotel reservation. He arrived in the Spanish capital and sat outside the club’s training grounds for hours until manager José Mourinho spotted him as he was leaving. “Stop! It’s the guy from Los Angeles.” And that’s how the magical journey of Abel Rodríguez began. It’s documented beautifully by Grant Wahl in Sports Illustrated. Snippet:

“Mourinho called an assistant and arranged for Rodríguez to have his own room at the fancy hotel where Real Madrid was staying before the Barcelona game. Mourinho instructed him to get some rest at the hotel and meet him at the training site the next morning. That evening, the night before El Clásico, the two men caught up for 90 minutes together before sharing dinner with the Real Madrid coaching staff.”

It’s only a game, some say.

UPDATE: Bayern München vs. Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid. The semi-final first legs will be on 23 and 24 April and the return legs on 30 April and 1 May.